"Ghost Hunters": Mark Twain House

December, 2009 by Ray Bendici
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taps1The Damned Story: The Atlantic Paranormal Society -- better known as TAPS, best known as SyFy's "Ghost Hunters" -- came to Hartford in the fall of 2009 to investigate alleged hauntings at the Mark Twain House in Hartford. The episode premiered on December 2, 2009, with repeat broadcasts since then.

For those unfamiliar with the history of the Mark Twain House, it's where the renowned author -- Samuel Clemens in real life -- lived with his wife and three daughters from 1874 to 1891. While living there, Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, in addition to other classic works. The Clemens family lived there for 17 years, until they left for Europe as a temporary recourse from serious financial problems. Following the death of daughter Suzy at age 24 from meningitis in 1896, the family was too heartbroken to continue living in the home, and sold it. It subsequently was a boarding school and library before becoming a museum dedicated to the life and career of Samuel Clemens that is open to the public year-round.

Recently, there have been reports of employees and visitors seeing the apparition of a young woman in a long white dress roaming the halls and ghostly faces in the windows; other have had their clothes tugged by unseen forces and heard the laughter of children, whispers and other unexplained noises. And it's such claims that have brought Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson and the TAPS team out to investigate.

The episode follows the "Ghost Hunters" standard formula, beginning with case manager Kris Williams contacting Grant and Jason (who just happen to be on their day jobs as plumbers, conveniently unstopping a toilet with a camera crew in tow) to tell them about the investigation and give them an overview of what paranormal activity has been reported. The two plumbers, apparently big fans of classic American literature, are more excited than Calaveras County jumping frogs and leap in their van with the team and head over to Hartford.

Once on site, Grant and Jason meet up with Rebecca Floyd, the manager of visitor services for the Mark Twain House museum, who tells them about the history of the house, then takes them on a tour of the residence, pointing out the various "hot spots" where events have alleged to occur -- the drawing room, library, Suzy's bedroom, the master bedroom and nursery. The team then sets up their equipment in the appropriate locations, turns out the lights and begin the investigation.

Three separate teams explore the darkened house with the night-vision cameras in tow: Kris and Amy Bruni, Dustin Pari and Britt Griffith, and of course, Jason and Grant. Each group goes through the three main floors, and it seems as though each group has an odd experience or two. Not to give too much about the episode away, but various sounds are heard, a few odd shadows spotted and unusual readings are recorded on EMS meters and thermal imaging cameras. After spending the night in the house, they turn the lights on, pack up and head back to Rhode Island for the analysis.

Unfortunately, they quickly discover that the main DVR has crashed, taking a lot of their footage with it. Still, they have captured some interesting evidence. Jason and Grant are able to debunk one eyewitness claim -- about fluttering curtains (a panel is loose) -- and as the house is located on a busy street, it's not a surprise that some of the moving shadows can be attributed to lights passing by outside.

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During "the reveal" portion of the program, what personal experiences and evidence they haven't lost is shared with Rebecca Floyd, who seems pleased with the findings.

twain_houseOur Damned Experience: We have been to the Mark Twain House in Hartford numerous times, and aside from enjoying the architecture and history of the house, have never experienced anything otherworldly, nor seen anything unusual. Actually, we also never heard anything about the house being haunted until recently, which seems a bit convenient in light of how many local historic groups seem to be benefiting from the "our old site is haunted = increased visitor traffic" bandwagon.

Or as Sam Clemens himself said: "Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising."

Not that there's anything wrong with it -- we enjoy both history and the unusual, so if they legitimately cross paths, we're all for it. And paranormal activity or not, the Mark Twain House is still a highly recommended place to visit. The house itself is an architectural joy, and obviously, the personal history of such an iconic American personality as Samuel Clemens is exceptionally compelling.

If You Watch: If you're already a fan of "Ghost Hunters," there's no reason why you won't enjoy this episode, aside from the absence of Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango, whose continual banter and needling usually make investigations more entertaining. (Apparently, SyFy thinks so to, and have spun the duo off on their own show, "Ghost Hunters Academy.")

Still, it's fun to see the TAPS team covering some renowned local ground.

Comments

Submitted by Barbie (not verified) on
Been there several times with no unusual experiences and also never heard about any hauntings.

Submitted by Steve Frank on
Just read in the advocate that the house is still having financial troubles, this might of been an attempt to draw more attention. I can't find anything on this house being haunted prior to the TAPS team going there.

Submitted by Jean (not verified) on
Suzy was Twain's closest child. I think he'd be furious to think the trustees of his home would exploit her early death and his deep dispair to be in a stupid TV show. After the Twain House, these inarticulate knuckle-bumpers go next door to Harriet Beecher Stowe's home and walk around asking questions like: "Do you want us to leave? Can you make something move?" Twain and Stowe were giants of our history and culture. I doubt they'd have much to say to people who react to every creak or passing headlight with, "Dude, that's crazy...What the F*** was that?"

Submitted by Steve Frank on
Well put Jean.

Submitted by Aley (not verified) on
On 2/7/10 I took some photographs of various angles of this house. Just recently I noticed that there are several faces in the pictures including a woman looking out of the window. I am not sure who to contact at the museum about this photograph.

Submitted by Barbara (not verified) on
I know someone who works at the Twain house and the reason you dont hear about hauntings prior to the Ghost Hunters episode is b/c the employees were not allowed to discuss it. The museum did not want a "haunted house" reputation. Ghost Hunters did the contacting not the other way around. Many local paranormal groups have gotten contacted for years and years by visitors who have had "paranormal experiences" during their trip to the museum. Personally, I dont think Twain would be upset about the show or the ghost tours, if you know anything about Twain you would know he absolutely loved attention whether it was good or bad. On another note the ghost tours open up a door for a whole new audience. Teenagers, for example, who would normally hate to go to a "boring old house" are fascinated by the ghost tours and realize how interesting history can be and they decide to come back and go on a normal tour during the day. (The tours also focus on the history of spiritualism and clemens connections w/ the paranormal during their time) Of course the show helped get publicity, but lets be realistic, museums need an extra boost to make money. Before you judge the show or the museum, you have to realize if the house closes, a big part of keeping Twain's legacy alive goes w/ it. P.S Aley you should contact the www.marktwainhouse.org just find an email and send it to any employee they should be able to forward it to the proper person.

Submitted by gio (not verified) on
you tell em dude

Submitted by ayana (not verified) on
Personally, I think the Mark Twain house is haunted, but i was told by my cousin that you shouldnt always believe in what a show such as Ghost Hunter/Ghost Adventure/Paranormal State fool you like that. Mark Twain was a beloved and still loved man. My cousin told me i should go and find proof myself. Of course i may not get the proof i want because there will be a crowd, but it does say that visitors "experience" a paranormal activity, yet my cousin says, 'people only believe that they feel/hear/etc. these things because they BELIEVE in it. If you think it, you'll believe it. very true though. If they never had these ghost movies/shows people would NEVER think of ghost. Things mostly happen like that because people watch alot of T.V. So, just alittle lesson. Never really always believe in what you see on t.v. at times. Go find proof yourself. Come to Connecticut :P

Submitted by allison (not verified) on
I was the person who has her clothes tugged. It happened in 1994-long before all these shows were on the air. For years, I tried to see if there were any reports about the house but with no success. I finally contactedthe house via their website. They contacted me immediately-new management actually were willing to talk about it. They contacted Ghosts Hunters who in turn contacted me. I can assure you I visited with no expectations, had an experience that I will never forget, and now finally feel vindicated!

Submitted by Greg (not verified) on
That is idiotic, Ayana. Your cousin is an intolerant.

Submitted by Max (not verified) on
About 32 years ago I went to the house with some friends. When we came to the children's room I said that I did not want to go in there. I felt something very negative that seemed to be in the two dolls placed in the front of the room of child's chairs. We did eventualy go through the room but I practically ran through it. At the end of the tour I asked the guide if one of the children had died a violent death there. That is what I felt. She said that both daughters had died violent deaths, but I do not think that they occurred in the actual house. About two years ago when seeing a PBS show about Mark Twain, they showed a picture of that room and I felt the exact same kind of dread I did when I was actually there.

Submitted by Chase (not verified) on
I had visited the mark twain house the summer of 2009 and I didn't see anything. It didn't seem haunted either.

Submitted by Sydney (not verified) on
In the second followup ghost hunters gorage was the other ghost besides Jean

Submitted by RPM (not verified) on
I went on the house tour on August 25, 2013. When we got to the top floor, in the room where he would play pool with his friends, I distinctly "saw" Twain, in his full regalia, standing out on the adjacent outside parapet (the upper porch -- I believe you can see it in the picture), accompanied with a strong cigar smell (cigar was in hand). He was looking over the property with a casual and pleasant, though intense, demeanor. I dismissed it at the time as imagery evoked by the docent's descriptions (which did not include any mention of ghosts) and didn't mention it to anyone at the time, but I've wondered about this ever since. Finally, I took the time to Google today to see whether there have been other reports, and indeed so. I'm not surprised. The children's rooms seemed a bit eery, but I didn't notice anything negative. It's a fantastic house and a great place to visit, so I do plan to return.

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